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Tiger wins Player of the Year for 5th time

Tiger Woods was named U.S. PGA player of the year for 2003 on Monday, the fifth straight season the American has claimed the honour.

Despite failing to capture one of the sport's major trophies for the first time since 1998, Woods polled more votes from his peers than Vijay Singh, Davis Love III and Mike Weir, his closest rivals for the title.

"I would have been surprised if I had not won," Woods told ESPN. "I won five times on Tour this year, more than anyone else on Tour."

Woods's five player of the year awards in a row is an unprecedented achievement. It is also the sixth time out of seven full seasons on the Tour that the 27-year-old has scooped the Jack Nicklaus trophy.

For the first time since Greg Norman in 1995, a player without a major to his name in a calendar year was named player of the year.

Indeed, such was Woods's disappointing form in the majors that critics cast doubt on his claims for this season's title.

Plagued by a knee injury and dogged by media suggestions that his domination of the game had been broken, Woods often appeared to be struggling through the toughest period of his career.

But two of his victories came in World Golf Championship events, while the world number one secured his fifth successive Vardon Trophy for low scoring average.

Woods defended his performance, and argued that his exploits in 2000 -- when he won outright nine times, including three of the four majors -- had coloured perceptions of his other seasons.

"The year 2000 was a magical year," said Woods. "But it's hard to duplicate that. It was disappointing in majors for me this year, but of the biggest tournaments in the world, I got a couple of them."

Fijian Singh produced top-six finishes in his last eight PGA Tour starts, including two wins, before ending Woods's four-year reign as the tour's leading money winner with earnings of $7,573,907.

Canadian Weir became the first left-hander to win a major in 40 years when he triumphed at the U.S. Masters. He also won two other tournaments in 2003.

Love had to cope with the suicide of his brother-in-law earlier this year, but the American still claimed four titles.

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